John R. Vermillion
Tell Me About Your Firm, Who You Are Advocating For And Who Your Target Audience Is?
We have a rather broad target audience; we are advocating for people to plan their estates in advance to avoid problems we hope don’t occur and that could involve family disputes, unnecessarily paying estate taxes, planning for long term care needs and incapacity planning as well as special needs planning.
So that covers a broad range. Most of the time, we are dealing with people who are families with children, maybe in their middle age and are considering ways to distribute their estate. So, I guess that would be our target. But we have young clients and old clients and single clients and everything in between. So we’re, I guess, targeting people that have assets that need to determine how to distribute them and protect them and take care of their families. I guess it’s pretty broad. But that’s kind of where we are.
What Problems Do You Solve For Your Clients?
First of all, we want to keep our clients out of the courtroom; at the time of incapacity, we do not want them to have to go through a guardianship. At the time of death, we do not want their estate to go through a probate. Now sometimes those legal procedures are necessary, but we are hoping to avoid them. We also like to retain privacy, assets that go through probate are available to the public. So, we would prefer to do everything in private with the documents that we can use, like powers of attorney trust, etc.
What Do You Do For Your Clients? Why DO You Do It?
Like I said, that the planning process involves personal contact and personal interfacing with our clients and we think that’s very important. Sometimes in larger firms, the clients don’t even meet the lead attorney or sometimes they do at the initial phases of it, but that’s it. So, we try to, in our small firm, be hands on with our clients so that we’re with them at all times and they have access to the attorney at all times, obviously, with proper appointment setting, and so on and so forth. But we’re trying to help our clients avoid these problems and we also try to be personally involved with doing it rather than just shoving it off to a clerk or a paralegal.
Why Did You Decide To Become An Attorney?
I don’t have a very good answer for that one. I just didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was in college. So I said, I think I’ll go to law school. I was always more business, I mean, that’s really what I thought. But I was really more business oriented and I spent the early part of my career in the oil business first working for major oil companies and independent oil companies and then lastly, for my father, who had an independent oil company. I was the vice president and counsel of his firm and on the board of directors. That company was sold and I did something else for 3 years and when the business that I had created sold, I had an opportunity to do some work for an estate planning group that was nationwide. Although I had not at that time in 1996, done estate planning, I jumped in with both feet and started doing that and then the firm just grew from that. As a result of that connection, I’m licensed in 4 states, my original state of Bar membership was Louisiana, but then I qualified in Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and still retain those memberships to this day.
So, since 1997, end of 96, beginning of 97, I’ve been a 100% estate planning attorney. I would say to anybody that life goes sometimes in a zigzag and you don’t know where you’re going to end up. But my legal education and experience led me to an area that I didn’t anticipate but I enjoy thoroughly.